Almost exactly 3 years later, as he listened to the settlers with their pitch-forks pounding on his gate, Kelechi Machuka will remember the day he said good bye to his last sons. There are many reasons people have few more than 2 children. May be fear of being lonely, needing but lacking company or reliable help when you most need it. I’m not going to pretend I know Kelechi’s reason or fear, but Kelechi and his wives had 47 children:
It all started with the farmers, the first four born who tended to the land Kelechi’s grandfather discovered and gave his four sons who founded this town. One day, unimpressed with their lives they lay down their hoes and took up seats on one of the benches under the blueberry tree.
His second daughters; the wide eyed one, the fast one, the one with the restless legs and the one who couldn’t tell you the shape of her nose–no one was surprised when they pulled their hair in a bon, put a stick through it, hailed a cab and disappeared before the morning sun rose to the throne.
The second sons went to war and only two came back. But they were badly broken and no juju or mori man could fix them. They withered in the corner rambling about dragons and ovens with a taste for human flesh. They swore God was just flesh and bones, and bleeds like the rest of them, and cries and cowers. Who would believe such nonsense. Kids used them for toys and disposed of them when they grew up and lost their wisdom.
The third sons, mostly out of anger for their brothers’ plight, became revolutionaries. They wrote poems, wrote speeches, went to court and took up guns. But they couldn’t handle peace. When it came at last and they had to trade in their guns for staff, they didn’t know what to do. They were fighters that left the ring and still walked around with their gloves on. They tried to hit everything into shape, even porcelain dolls. At first the town worshiped them, then they became terrified of them, then they just ignored them and went about their lives. This sort of thing happens; when fear becomes chronic you learn to walk on threat with your eyes closed and call it normal.
The doctor, the lawyer, the sergeant and the banker; the favoured ones in the neighborhood, the ones every parent wanted their daughters and sons to marry. The doctor got a visit from a mysterious stranger with a duffle bag. By morning he was gone. The lawyer, he was the pragmatist that killed the idealist. He woke up one day and realized his portfolio was full of blank pieces of paper (instead of the money the magician doubled). The sergeant just got tired of the uniform, tired of the sun, tired of the whole fucking town! He didn’t even say good bye before walking off the job one hot Market Day in April. The banker, he stuck around. But he was the magician.
The weaver, the mason, the blacksmith and carpenter…they said work was hard, the pay lousy and they were badly in want of respect. But in this camera phone world, it’s hard to get respect when you don’t wear white to the office. And when people don’t respect you, they value you even less. And value has long been a commodity, there is a price tag sewn to it. You have to work twice as hard to prove half your worth.
When the hairdresser left, nobody cared. But when the next holiday rolled in on the back of a rainbow, mothers put their hands on their heads and wailed up and down the street begging the rain to come back. But it was too late.
Kelechi knew this day would come. He sat back in his rocking chair with a smile on his face hitting his head on the wall…because anguish is the man with the eyes of God and none of his powers. Kelechi also saw the teacher, the coach, the priest and imam take one synchronized line through the middle of town waving goodbye to their students and congregation. They were supposed to come back, but who knows what happens when intent meets temptation.
Kelechi thought the students were the new crop that would resist the locust. So when he looked up one evening three years ago and saw those students standing over him with their backpacks and good bye on their faces, Kelechi knew the end was near. He knew the spawning had begun and his land was fertile for an invasion.
When the blueberry gardener appeared, the captain was not far behind; with a carrot in one hand, a dagger by his side, Kelechi and his youngest wife were on their deathbed watched over by their grandson, Bilal.